France considers fees for non-EU students

04, February, 2015

France should consider introducing full tuition fees for non-EU students at public higher education institutions, according to a report released by France Stratégie, a think tank linked to the Prime Minister’s office.  

Currently French state-funded institutions charge a flat administration fee to all students, regardless of nationality.

According to the most recent OECD report, France was the fourth most popular destination for international students in higher education with over six per cent of the global share, and Paris has consistently been placed top in the QS Best Student Cities index since it was launched in 2012.

However, the authors of the report argue that France cannot cope with the anticipated increase in international student numbers over coming years. They said introducing fees for non-EU students could earn the country around €850 million (US$964 million) per year, money that could be reinvested into education to provide scholarships and better services, they argued.

Campus France, the body that promotes education in France globally, reported last year that international students contribute a net €1.6 billion (US$1.8 billion) to the country annually, even without tuition fees.

Acknowledging that Scandinavian countries such as Denmark and Sweden saw international student numbers drop after introducing tuition fees for non-EU students, the authors said that more would need to be done to market French higher education overseas in order to prevent the same declines.

Using agents was one of the measures discussed by the authors as a way of maintaining recruitment levels, along with building a stronger brand for French higher education, using stronger communication and marketing strategies in key markets, and strengthening diplomatic networks. The authors suggest €7.5 million (US$8.5 million) should be dedicated to these efforts.

Some of France’s private higher education providers have been more proactive in marketing internationally and using agents to recruit fee-paying international students, as revealed in a special article on higher education in France in the current issue of StudyTravel Magazine.


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